tv [untitled] June 4, 2012 11:00am-11:30am EDT
i'm the chairman of the board for national policy. under our the the guidance of our senior fellow for middle east policy at cnp, we're thrilled to have this very important program, arguably one of the most important programs we've had given the the events in egypt. the center for national policy has been dealing with foreign policy and defense matters, and for nearly three decades our previous leaders, including my predecessor, leon panetta, ambassador tim roemer, ambassador to india, and a little bit before that in the '90s and '80s, madeleine albright was our president, ed musgee, our chairman. secretary panetta will be honoring secretary panetta on june 21st with a dinner. but today's event is all about egypt. we couldn't have a greater expert than greg. greg's background is in
academia, on capitol hill, and at the state department. the state department, he's been an expert for decades, recognized through his publications and his advice on capitol hill, an adviser to the most important legislators, paul sarbanes, chris van holland, ted kennedy. in academiacademia, he has a professorship at the university of massachusetts, lowell, but his own background is dartmouth college, university of chicago, london school of economics, very -- obviously some of the most important places in this subject area. we are just thrilled that greg today has decided that he will guide us through this important subject at this terribly important moment. and with that, i turn it over to greg. >> well, thank you very much, peter. i really appreciate your kind comments. and today i want to welcome you to the center for national policy. before i begin, i'd like to thank dan glassman from the cnp staff for helping me organize this event. as all of you know, egypt has
been going through a very profound and a very did i feel democratic transition since the fall of president hosni mubarak from power in february of 2011. there are many knowns and many unknowns at this point. what is known is there are two fronts -- excuse me, two top vote-getters from first round of the presidential elections, the muslim brotherhood candidate mohamed mursi and the former or the last prime minister under mubarak, ahmed shafiq, who is a career air force officer. the outcome of this election has caused a lot of disturbances within egypt, as many of you have probably seen from the media reports just in the last 24 hours. there were demonstrations in tahrir square and also the burning of ahmed shafiq's campaign headquarters. the two -- the conventional wisdom prior to this election
was that the former foreign minister and former secretary-general of the arab league would have been a top vote-getter as well as fe tewell, but they did not reach those positions. many of the egyptians who led the efforts in tahrir square a year and a half ago are upset with the outcome, but we don't really know what's going to take place in the coming weeks. to make matters even more complicated, we don't even know the presidential powers. there was a committee to draft the new egyptian constitution, but one of the egyptian higher courts said that this panel would have to be disbanded, and so we have a presidential election without clearly defined presidential powers. certainly members of parliament want power to have strong powers in the new egypt. and a weak president, but given
egyptian history, whoever becomes egyptian president will certainly have a lot of powers and influence the direction of the country not only in terms of je e jipt but with egypt's relations with the arab world, the u.s. peace treaty and of course u.s./egyptian relations. all these issues are very important, and we're going to try to address them today. i am very pleased to have such a distinguished panel with us today. many of these people have -- i've known over the years, and they have all contributed to my knowledge and understanding of egyptian society and egyptian politics. so i'd like to spend just a few minutes to introduce each of the panelists, and then we can start with the discussion. to my left is mr. kareem ha gog, who is a career egyptian diplomat spending this year as a visiting faculty member at the near east south asia center of the national defense university here in washington, d.c., where he is focusing on the implications of the arab
revolutions. prior to this, he was at the egyptian press information office in washington, d.c., from 2007 to 2011. from 2002 to 2007 he served in the office of the presidency in cairo, responsible for u.s./egyptian relations and economic policy coordination. he did a previous stint in washington at the egyptian embassy where he was responsible for political military affairs and arab/israeli issues. he holds a bachelor's degree in international politics from the american university of cairo and a masters degree in war studies from kings college in london. thank you for being here. to my far right is mr. thomas gorgusian, who has been a journalist and writer for the past 30 years and has written extensively about egyptian politics and u.s. policy. he has written for a number of egyptian arab publication publi. in addition, he has appeared
frequently on many arabic language and english language television programs, including c-span, cnn, al jazeera, and al arabia, as well as egyptian tv. he has also lectured widely and appeared on many panels speaking act egyptian politics and u.s. relations. and currently he is the washington representative for the online daily journal al tahrir. to my immediate right is a professor so i recall lecturer in school of international service and american university here in washington, d.c. he is also assistant professor in the faculty of economics and political science at cairo university. the doctor is the author of numerous publications on various issues related to mideastern politics in society and has authored the egyptian country profile for an online encyclopedia titled "islamopedia online."
he currently teaches at american university on such courses as contemporary middle eastern politics, minorities in the middle east, and research methodology. so without further ado, i want to welcome our panelists and the audience and turn first mr. hakeem ha gog for his comments. ? thank you, greg, and thank you to the center for organizing this important panel. just before i start, i feel in an odd position of having no make not one but two disclaimers. as an egyptian diplomat i am here not representing the egyptian government but my own views. and also has a visiting faculty of the national defense university, which is a d.o.d. organization, i certainly do not represent the views of the u.s. government. with those two disclaimer, i want to thank greg again for that introduction and for inviting me.
so predicting elections is always a hazardous business, and i think the egyptian elections are no exception. as greg mentioned, the second round of these elections, which will be held on the 16th and 17th of june, will see the face-off of -- between the muslim brotherhood candidate mohamed mursi and general ahmed shafiq, both of them who garnered in the first round roughly 24% of the vote. now, the elections so far have been remarkably surprising. the results have defied all of the predictions that the experts have put forward. most of the polling put the top two front-runners, as greg mentioned, as former foreign minister mu is is a and drdr. fa dual who broke off from the muslim brotherhood about a year ago to run as an dehn candidate.
the high elections council announced the final results of the first round yesterday, and as greg mentioned, there have been some very interesting developments in the last 24 hours. with demonstrations in tahrir square, the torching of ahmed shafiq's campaign headquarters. so i think what we have now is a very highly dynamic situation heading into the runoff of these elections. so what i thought i'd do just to set the scene is to talk not about the candidates but about the broad context of these elections and what we can expect to see in the second round or in the run to have these elections, but also what they signify for egypt's posttransition politics. the significance, of course, of these elections, as greg mentioned, it really is the first time in egypt that we have
a real contestation for political power in the office of the head of state in the egyptian republic. that is a truly historic development. these elections also mark the end of the transition, the postrevolutionary transition, at least no, ma'amly, with the supreme council of the armed forces that has acted as a caretaker of this transition, expected to transfer power at the end of june to a newly elected civilian president. and then, of course, this is egypt. it is the most populous, the most central arab state. one-fifth of all arabs is an egyptian. egypt has been historically known to be the political and ideological center of the arab world. so these elections do matter. but i think the central question that these elections pose is is
can they really provide the solution to what has been a crisis of political legitimacy in the aftermath of the revolution against the mubarak regime? now, revolutions, of course, are born out of a legitimacy crisis. the revolution destroyed or overturned the legitimacy of the old order. but what we've seen over the course of the last 15 months is that there has been no new legitimacy to take its place. and that i think has left a political vacuum that has been filled by three competing legitimacies. there has been the legitimacy of the military represented in this staff, the supreme council of the armed forces. there is the legitimacy of the revolution itself, which overturned the mubarak regime. and that has take an form of repeated demonstrations in tahrir square, claiming its own legitimacy to direct egypt's
future. and then, of course, we have the muslim brotherhood, who claim their own electoral legitimacy to lead egypt's future through the ballot box, which, as has been proven, repeatedly they are very adept at contesting. so we have a situation of these competing legitimacies, and now i think the real test of these elections is will they decide the issue of legitimacy moving forward into the posttransition period. so i think the easiest way to summarize what is a very complex situation is to talk about the positives and the negatives. of these elections. so on the positive side, i think by all accounts this has been a good election. it has been remarkably competitive with clear alternatives provided by five of the leading top candidates in these elections.
the role of the military as a caretaker of this election despite all the problems throughout the transition has actually been quite positive. there were widespread expectations that the military would put off the elections, and they had innumerous opportunities to do so, but, in fact, they held very clear and very steadfastly to the election schedule and the election timetable. for all the talk of the military favoring a particular candidate, there doesn't seem to be any evidence of vote tampering or widespread electoral fraud. and despite the numerous legal challenges to these elections, much of the campaigning has went smoothly and provided for a very provocative and very lively debate between the candidates. so all indications point to the fact that the military will, in fact, hand over power to an elected civilian government.
so i think that we can clearly put on the positive ledger for these elections. second and most importantly, these elections produced a highly dynamic political map in egypt. in contrast to the parliamentary elections, which were held last november, which saw the islamists win roughly 75% of the vote between the muslim brotherhood and the sell fists with the seculars -- the secular forces combined gaining roughly 25%, in this election, the three top islamist candidates between them won roughly 35% of the vote. this is between the lead front-runner, which is mohamed mursi of the brotherhood, the independent islamist candidate representing by dr. abol fotouh, and mr. saleem ayla wa, a lesser-known islamist candidate who garnered roughly 6% of the
vote. between them, they won roughly 35% of the votes. we also see the sharp shift in the political map in the remnants of the national democratic party, which was the ruling party during the mubarak era. the ndn the parliamentary elections won virtually no seats and did very badly in those elections. now the remnants of the old ndp network seem to have mobilized for a highly effective campaign in support of general ahmed shafiq. so we see here -- and in addition to that, we see -- and this was a remarkable surprise -- the socialist candida candida candidate hamdeen sabahy really turned out to be the dark horse in this case. he ran as a clear leftist
agenda. all of the polls seem to have dismissed the fact that he would do well in this election. but very surprisingly, he came in third garnering roughly 21% of the vote. and also winning in areas that have been known to be traditional strongholds of the muslim brotherhood. in the big cities, cairo, alexandria, and also in the poor rural districts of the delta. so, the political map that emerged from the november parliamentary elections, which saw roughly three-quarters of the vote go islamist and one-quarter secularists, now we have a completely different map that is highly diverse and shows what i think is a very healthy sign that political pluralism is very much alive and well in egypt. this makes for what is turning out to be a very competitive race.
third, and i think related to this, it shows that the electorate is highly engaged and highly mobilized. i think what we've seen over the course of the last few months is that the electorate has focused very, very closely on the ups and downs of egyptian politics. and i think the most significant corrective mechanism that we've seen in this election has really taken the form of what seems to be a backlash against the muslim brotherhood. there is a rising concern of the prospect of the muslim brotherhood monopolizing all of the levers of egyptian politics, and that was clearly reflected in the fact that they did so well in the november parliamentary elections. their tendency to monopolize the constitution writing process, the fact that they are contesting the presidential elections after they had committed not to do so at the very start of the revolution. so i think what the electorate -- what we've seen in
terms of how the votes have split reflects really the fact that the electorate is now highly engaged and watching the developments of egyptian politics extremely closely. it is mobilized. it is politicized. and it is highly engaged in the political process. now, if we move to the negative side, i think the outcome that is before us between the election that will feature general shafiq and mohamed mursi represents for a very polarized outcome. general shafiq is -- seems to be the complete antithesis of everything that the revolution has stood for. the revolutionaries will argue that egypt did not go through this remarkable transition and this very historic revolution only to see the restoration of the old order represented by general shafiq.
egypt did not have to go through all of this just so we can go back to the old order. the same applies to the muslim brotherhood, which thus far has by its behavior has tended to confirm the worst fears of mainstream e egyptians of one political party monopolizing all of the levers of power. so we have in these two candidates what are very polarizing tendencies, and this actually adds to what is or what has been a very problematic transition since the overthrow of mubarak. if we factor in the fact that the turnout for this election was less than 50%, roughly 47% to 48% of the electorate, then each of the candidates or some will claim will have only garnered roughly 12% of all the
votes cast by eligible voters. now, so the claim will be that they represent only a minority of the electorate. however, i think on the other hand the days when an egyptian president will garner an absolute majority of the vote, i think those days are long gone. now, to explain this situation, which i think -- and as greg mentioned, already this highly polarized is situation leading into the runoff in mid-june has already triggered some incidents that we've seen develop over the last 24 hours. i think that the reason why we have ended up with this polarized situation is really a function of the polarized nature of the transition itself. over the course of the last 15 months we've had a situation in which there was a highly polarized debate over the issue
of religion, so religion versus secular politics, the old guard versus the new revolution, the skaf vest the protesters, the muslim brotherhood versus the protester, and all of this in a highly charged political environment where there was really no negotiating forum for all these forces to develop a consensus on the transition moving forward. but i think more importantly the reason why we have this polarized outcome has to do with what really is the anomalous nature of the revolution itself. now, the revolution started out really much more as a protest movement than a full-fledged revolution against the regime. it was not a revolution, of course, in the classic sense where we had a very defined leadership that can put forward an alternative vision for the
old legitimacy which crumbled with the fall of mubarak. the revolutionaries themselves, because of this quality of -- their leaderless quality, had a very hard time transitioning from protest to politics. and this left a vacuum that was inevitably filled by others. so the revolution itself did not put forward a consensus candidate for president. and this left the field to other candidate who is tried to claim the mantel of revolutionary legitimacy. dr. abdel moneim abol fotouh certainly was one who claimed to speak for the revolution, but he asemied a very odd coalition of secularists and didn't quite manage to convince the broad electorate that he was the one who spoke for the revolution. musa, the same thing. he claimed that the mantel of the revolution on a platform of
gradual change from within the system, and of course hamdeen sabahy, all of them claimed to speak for the revolution, but none of them really remitted the type of consensus candidate that can form or leave what can be termed as a third force in egyptian politics between the muslim brotherhood on the one hand and the military establishment and the old order on the other handle represented by general shafiq. so, from the beginning, the revolution was always ambivalent about the formal political process represented in elections. the revolutionaries were the biggest losers in the previous parliamentary elections held in november, and now they find themselves heading into the runoff on january 16th, 17th without a candidate to represent them. so there really is no clearly defined center in egyptian politics as of yet anyhow.
and what we have now is the polar extremes represented by mr. mursi and general shafiq. so given this background, what can we expect heading into the runoff? i think much will depend on how the next three weeks develop. we will see two competing processes i think between now and the 16th. we will see a process of politics and a process of protest. the process of politics has already begun with the two leading candidates beginning to woo the independent voters that have broken for the three candidate who is didn't make it into the second round. and there are all sorts of talks of political maneuverings, deals between the candidates, certain guarantees, especially on the part of the muslim brotherhood for the independent candidates to give them their support.
so that i think will be one process that we will see. the other competing process will be represented by the protesters. and here, this is what we've seen over the course of the last 24 hours, whereby the disaffected revolutionaries will seek to delegitimize the election itself. this will take the form of protest. this will take the form of legal challenges against the process itself. so i think we will see these two competing scenes as we head into the runoff. i think, however, just to conclude, i think given everything we've seen in terms of how this process has played out and the political landscape which has developed, which has shown a remarkable degree of pl pluralism, i think the trend overall is consensus heading into the elections and the runoff, but more importantly the consensus that the new president
will have to base his legitimacy on after the elections. and i think, given everything we've seen, i think we can assume that it is that consensus that will be the hallmark of how the next president will seek to govern. let me end there. and i'm sure there are much more things that the two other panelists will address and that we can talk about in q&a. thank you. >> thank you, karim, for such a comprehensive analysis. now i'd like to turn to thomas for his comments. >> presidential elections. let's say it's another turning point. it's another historical moment. and it's another step toward democracy. i'm trying to say how the people are describing it. and this time is done in the name of presidential elections. it is hard to believe that all these turning points, historical
moments, and these steps have taken place in the last 16 or 14 or 15 months. and are still taking place in egypt. and yet more will come. more is expected. and more we'll see, sooner than later. i will try to be as much as i can to be realistic, because it's like always we say, okay, it was optimistic or pessimistic. this is main question people ask about any, whether in our personal life or public life or let's say in this case egypt life. and the most answers -- because as you will see in my speech or my presentation, i will try to act like what they call in facebook language the admin, which is like collecting ideas and throwing them to people, and see what they are going to say. i mean, maybe they like it or whatever, poke it, well, i don't
know what you are going to do. anyway, i will try to do my best in this admin post. so the main thing is optimistic or pessimistic, the main answer is coming in this way. most egyptians are pessimist in the short term and optimist on the long term. okay. there is another question i usually ask people. how do you see the full half or the empty half of the cup? yeah, one of the best answer i get is that i see the full half but it's full of what? that's the main question in this case. and the main question in the coming weeks, i will say, not just two weeks, four weeks, four weeks during which egypt will be shaped, and you will see some of the question will be answered e. as a matter of fact, in the last two or three weeks, whenever you
read any analysis by experts, observers, analysts, and most of their questions are unanswered, still the situation is fluid. still egypt case is unclear. and it's true, because many factors, as mr. haggag explained it, this is the platform on which -- or the case which is in front of us. there is history, there is politics, there is religion factor or the use of religion as a factor in shaping things or misshaping things. in the same time, all these factors are now, as a matter of fact, they are acting or reacting or preaching or cheating people in the name of the revolution. which is reyal pi. i mean, everybody